Covid-19 has intensified gender inequality and bias in business, say female entrepreneurs

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Two-thirds of female entrepreneurs feel the pandemic has worsened gender inequality and bias in business, according to new research finds.

Nearly half (47%) of female entrepreneurs have had to take on more family responsibilities during the pandemic, as one in ten say they’ve had to put their business plans on hold.

In response to the survey of over 800 female small business owners, Simply Business, one of the UK’s largest small business insurance providers.

have partnered with The Apprentice star Baroness Karren Brady CBE for their Empowering Women in Business initiative – offering one woman the chance to win an exclusive one-on-one mentoring session with the leading British business executive.

The initiative has been introduced to help women small business owners overcome sexism and gender bias in business, while improving their skills and confidence as business owners.

One female entrepreneur will win an hour-long, one-to-one mentoring session with Karren Brady CBE.

A third of women business owners experience sexism

Worryingly, the study also revealed that one in three female entrepreneurs have experienced sexism as a business owner, while one in five (19%) have experienced gender inequity and unequal access to opportunities.

With over a third of female entrepreneurs claiming juggling childcare and family responsibilities is one of the greatest challenges when it comes to running a business, it’s more important than ever for female leaders in the industry to get the support and advice they need to excel and get the opportunity to network with other business owners.

Ronnie, runs a high street tech repair store in Beaconsfield: “Being a mum of three and owning a new business during Covid has been one of the hardest challenges I’ve ever undertaken. I do not normally give up too easily, but this took everything in me to push through. The support and advice from the government wasn’t the best, I was able to get some help from local councils, but more support was needed.”

Baroness Karren Brady CBE, ambassador for Simply Business, comments: “The level of gender bias and inequality within business, particularly within the small business landscape, is astounding. Sexism and bias, whether conscious or unconscious, will erode confidence over time and lead to unequal opportunities. It’s vital we challenge sexism and bias, and equip female entrepreneurs with the tools, access and confidence to overcome these obstacles. We need to inspire women into business, not bring them down.

“We need to harness the talents, ambitions and drive of women, at any business, big or small. I’m proud to partner with Simply Business to shine a light on sexism and bias in business – it’s an ongoing challenge we need to resolve. Supporting and mentoring one female entrepreneur, and giving them the skills and tools they need to flourish, is a positive step forward in this journey.”

Bea Montoya, Chief Operating Officer at Simply Business, commented: “The pandemic has been tough on everyone, with few being hit harder than the nation’s small business owners – and that’s especially true for women who run their own business.

“From trading restrictions to staff shortages, the challenges of running a small business over the last two years have been relentless. But for those also juggling parenting, childcare and home-schooling, those challenges have been intensified. Almost half of female entrepreneurs have had to take on more family responsibilities during the pandemic, leading to one in 10 putting their business on hold entirely.

“Here at Simply Business, we’re proud to support many thousands of thriving small businesses across the UK that are run by women. And we want to help tackle the worrying levels of gender bias and inequality – that have only got worse since the start of Covid-19 – and empower even more women to go it alone.

“By partnering with Baroness Karren Brady CBE – a formidable businesswoman with a fascinating story and a wealth of insights to share – we’re hoping countless more female entrepreneurs will be inspired to follow their big dream and become their own boss.

“Small businesses are crucial to the UK economy and will prove pivotal to our economic recovery from the pandemic. We’re thrilled to offer one female business owner the opportunity to receive an exclusive, one-on-one mentoring session with Karren. We know a hugely positive impact awaits, with Karren helping to support and guide a lucky entrepreneur through the next phase of their business journey.”

Business Matters Magazine

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